A Slight Change

FYI: We are no longer doing the anon comment thing. You all know me and it's not fair that I don't know you. From this point forward, you can only comment on my blog if you have a registered google account and you are signed in. I own what I write--so should you. This keeps us responsible, don't you think?

It takes just a few minutes to set up a free hotmail/yahoo/gmail account for your public internet activities such as blog commenting or message board usage that will allow you some protection against spam without leaving me totally in the dark.

If you don't want to participate in this way, you can always email me privately.

Happy Friday.



If you've been hanging around here very often, you will understand the tidbit of irony of this next statement:

This was in my stocking!
And it's wonderful!

Happy Thursday!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! This is our card's lighted (in case you can't see). I love that we got so many photo cards this year, but actually, all cards make me happy. Christmas cards are so special to me.

I finally found something to do with all the "fiber" I have - make fluffy, tassle-like ornaments! I made about 7 of these and used up a good bit ofthe fiber stash. I can imagine if they were made using several different kinds of fibers...maybe some pretty would those be? (Idea for next year?)

The red ornaments suspended in my kitchen windows were my favorite new-addition to the Christmas decor this year. I used crushed velvet ribbon to hang them. Then there was this simple small wreath with green satin bow. I fell in love with that fancy ribbon at the textile store. Love it.


Just a few questions...

In light of the Christmas spirit, I have a few questions.

a-Is it wrong to prefer eating the crust off the Honeybaked Ham and not the actual ham? (I hope not.)

b-Is it cheap or immoral to put the gazillion batteries that you know your kid's presents are going to need in the stockings from Santa?

c-What does it say about you if you prefer to get a bunch of small presents over one or two really outstanding ones?

d-Does anyone know if I actually mailed my in-laws Christmas card or not? They are coming to our house for Christmas...but I can't remember if I mailed their usual card and photos or not.

e-Does it bug you when the "to/from" tag on a gift doesn't match the wrapping paper. It sends me over the edge.

f-Why do people (read "I") forget that Christmas comes at the same time every single year?

g-What do department stores do with their Christmas decorations and signage after the holidays? There are a few pieces of delightful decor from Macy's that I would love to have. They are plaid wooden dimensional trees...really sweet.

Happy Sunday!


Owls from Ebay...whoo knew?

I happened to run across this owl stamp on ebay...I have no use for it whatsoever...but isn't it cute?


Christmas Picture a Day - Day 3

Remember those gift card tins that I found at the grocery? I added a ribbon and made it an ornament, but come to think of it, it would make a cool spot to hide a small gift or letter right in plain sight.


Christmas Picture a Day - Day 2

So these are our stockings - a mishmash group of old, new and recycled.

The crocheted one on the left (red, white and blue) is Joal's. He's had it since he was a wee thing.

The white one is mine. It's soft and velvety.

The next one is a felt one with a Christmas tree and lots of balls--it's Julian's. He loves the little pom pom balls.

The snowman one is Grey's. Julian picked it out for him the Christmas before Grey was born. Someday, we'll let G pick a new one.

The other two are hanging there in anticipation of Gram and Popa (aka Big Boss), who will be spending Christmas at our house this year.

And yes, that's the world's ugliest fireplace cover. And no we've never used the fireplace. It's for looks only.

Is your Mercy showing?

God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

In this time of the year when so many people seem stretched and stressed and short-tempered and short-handed and in a hurry and only to be thinking of your mercy showing? Are you capable of choosing to rise above it all and show mercy generously?

Lord, help me to more capable of seeing beyond myself in the way that I show mercy to others.


A Christmas Picture a Day - Day One

Christmas Picture A Day
I intended to start this back on December 1...but got sick so, I'm a little late.
Do you know what I love about this picture? That green ribbon. Why? Because it's there for a reason. Soon after we put up the nativity, the green ribbon appeared on the baby Jesus figure. I asked around to find out why the baby Jesus is wearing green ribbons. I found out the answer from Greyson:
"The baby Jesus was cold. He doesn't have much clothes on. He needed a blanket."
Seems fitting to me...I think two scraps of green ribbon just became a new and permanant part of our nativity.
Happy Tuesday.


Wreaths Finally and Bar b Que

Every year I hang a green wreath on each window across the front of my house. This year, my wreaths were in need of new bows so the process--which normally happens the Friday after Thanksgiving--was delayed until today.

I finally went last night to find ribbon, crossing my fingers it wasn't too late. With some luck, I found this extra wide red satin-like all-weather ribbon with gold wire-edging at Joann's. The roll of 50 feet was only $5. Incidentally, I really hate it when ribbon companies specify ribbon lengths in feet but I guess it sounds like you are getting more to say "50 feet" rather than 16.66 yards. Anyway. I managed to get all 6 bows done from one roll and I bought an extra for the mailbox, the doors and anything left will go on our tree.

Speaking of the tree, it's up and has lights, thanks to Joal. It's been up for more than a week but I've been so spazzed out over making cards, I haven't done a thing to it. The cards just didn't want to come together this time.

The tree is tall and regal and I inhale deeply every time I walk past it. That smell is so "Christmas" to me.

Tonight I'm taking a break from the cards and pulling out my snowflake tree goodies. The boys are all sleeping, there's music playing, and I'm glittery with snowflakes and making little bows for my little tree. Happiness, I tell you. This is it. :)

In other news, I made some Bar b Que in the slow-cooker on Thursday for the party tonight and from all accounts, it was good stuff. Thought I would write down the recipe that I kindof made up from watching some shows on the Food Network and combining some ideas.

From the meat counter buy 5-6 pounds of beef potroast. (Don't worry about size.)

Other ingredients:

1 yellow onion, chopped finely

1 large container of beef broth

6 stalks of celery, chopped finely

1 package of Lipton's Beefy Onion Soup Mix

a generous handful of Emeril's Essence seasonings

2 bottles of your favorite traditional bar b que sauce

To prep the meat:

Unpackage and rince in cold water. Pat dry and using very sharp knife, cut into portions about the size of a softball. Cutting up the meat will give more surface area for the seasonings to soak in and it will allow you to stack the pieces brick-style in the slow-cooker, getting more in there than if you left the potroasts whole.

To Cook:

Turn the slow-cooker on high and pour in the broth. Add in the onion soup mix and the Essence seasonings. Use a whisk to combine.

Add onions and celery.

Add meat--stacking the pieces around and layering as needed.

Let cook on high for two hours, then turn down to low for 4-6 hours. Meat is done when it is fork-tender.

Turn off the slow-cooker and let it cool for about 3 hours. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pieces of meat from the juice, to a large plate. Using a fork and knife (or your fingers), shred the pieces of meat, removing all the inedible portions of fat.

When all the meat is shredded, mix in the bar b que sauce and stir until all the meat is coated. Put the bar b que in an air-tight container and let it sit at least overnight in the refrigerator.

Serve with slaw on rolls. Can be served hot or cold.


Glittery Snowflakes

Etsy has sucked up way too much of my time lately...but I must share this. I think it's perfect. And it's quilted.

I'm feeling quite crafty happens every year at about this time. I have a long-time relationship with snowflakes, especially silver or glittery ones. Did you see the cover of the January Scrapbooks etc yet? Hip designer Valerie Salmon is the talented one who's snowflake creation is gracing the cover.

I've been trying to track down a super-easy quick way to do glittered snowflakes and finally tonight it occurred to me. (I can be slow at times.)

Michaels sells bags of self-adhesive fun-foam snowflakes. Did you catch that? They are self-adhesive. So, I snagged a bag (of 80 snowflakes) and a bottle of glitter. (My glitter collection is growing by leaps and bounds lately.)

Peeling of the backing exposes the adhesive. The glitter sticks beautifully to the adhesive. How deliciously easy is that? Peel and dump. Use a spoon to press the glitter into the adhesive firmly. Knock off the excess and admire your sweet little glittered snowflake.

Warning to my family...we will have snow this year...even if I have to glitter the flakes myself. :)

In other news, I would appreciate your prayers for Grey. He's fighting a cold--he missed both days of school this week and was severely disappointed. He's not really sick...just a good case of unproductive coughing and being "snuffed up", as he put it. (I have no idea how to spell "snuffed".) The thing is...there's a family Christmas Party with some friends on Saturday night that he's been looking forward to for weeks and he knows if he's not feeling good, he won't be able to go. He really really wants to go.

Happy Friday, everyone.


Squarely under the heading of "It's none of my Business"...

I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have watched Oprah but I did manage to DVR her show the other day where Vince Gill and Amy Grant "stopped by" for a visit with the first lady of talk show tv. I recorded it for the music--I could listen to Vince Gill sing the ABCs and be a happy camper.

But the point of their visit (PR for the new book) seemed awkward and it, honestly, made me really uncomfortable. Oprah asked Amy to talk about how they met. Amy recounted the details of where and when and how she was so moved just by talking to him, etc. She seemed to come just short of saying it was love at first sight. Could she really admit that on national television... because as Oprah, of course, pointed out-- they were both married to other people at the time. Hmm.

And then, Vince revealed that soon after meeting Amy (while still married to his first wife) he penned that amazing song - "Whenever You Come Around". Fine...break my heart. That song is why I like his music. But now...ugh.

Now I think I find it harder to hold their story up as a grand love story (yay, even tho he's the nicest guy in country music)...and to admire their ability to communicate and understand each other (something Amy spoke of extensively). I don't's kindof a nagging detail. How much of a musician's life choices should influence my musical choices? And then there's the whole Christian icon thing. It's a little distressing to me that this woman who was the "darling of Christian radio" for so long felt it was OK to abandon her marriage for a new love. It just seems unsettling to me.

No, this "revelation" wasn't really new information. It was somewhat scandalous when it happened and Amy did have the good grace to lay low for a while (at least as far as CCM was concerned). Rumors abounded and it's pretty common knowledge around here that they broke up two marriages to be together. I guess I was just a little shocked to see it embraced so openly on Oprah.

OK I just re-read that and I should really just embrace my own naivete. Life goes on. Joal has seen them at Starbucks a few times...what else is new?

I'm sure my opinion has no real value and of course there could be circumstances of which I am unaware. I get that.

On a related note, in 2005, I was listening to the Brian Mason Show--a local Christian music radio show that airs on Sundays. Brian was interviewing Gary Chapman, Amy's first husband, who is also a singer/songwriter. Brian asked Gary Chapman "So, who's discs are in your car these days?" Without missing a beat, Gary said "Well, you can be sure there's no Vince Gill's Christmas Album in my disc changer." Dude. That was funny. And totally unexpected. I think Brian 'bout fell off his seat.

And it occurs to me that I do like lots of music that is made by people who's life choices I might not really agree with. An easy example - the Dixie Chicks fiasco. Obviously, can't stand Natalie Maines' decision to pontificate about her lack of respect for the American President while on foreign soil, but "Fly" and "Wide Open Spaces" are still in regular rotation on my mp3 player. For the most part, I don't find it so difficult to separate the musician from the music, even though sometimes I think they should just shut up and sing.

But it's a little different with people claiming to be standard-bearers of Christ. Or at least it should be. Shouldn't they be held to a higher standard? "To whom much is given, much is required" right? When you stand in the spotlight on a very large stage, don't you have a responsibility to represent with some integrity? I don't know. It's after midnight. I should go to bed and think about this tomorrow.

Sleep tight, ya'll.


What to Do?

What would you do with these spools? The tall one is about 14" tall. I found them at a garage sale...but I'm drawing a blank as to what to do with them? Got any ideas?

And in other news, did you see Marci's tags on her blog? Love those!


You Remembered Me

Christmas 2006 was unusually simple for us. We didn’t travel until the week after Christmas and no one came to visit us—so it was just the four of us at home on Christmas Day. We don’t do extravagant Christmases. Usually we get the boys one or two presents—things they have asked for or indicated that they would like. This Christmas was no different in that respect.

When I started thinking about what to get Julian, the list of “wants” was pretty short. He’s never been hard to buy for and I know what he likes pretty well. I knew that his Nashville Fire shirt—one of his most prized possessions—was showing how much it had been worn and was needing to be replaced. Replacing a NFD shirt is not an easy task. For security reasons, NFD doesn’t sell their shirts to the general public, as they once did. To get one, you have to be a fire fighter or know one who is willing to get one for you. Unfortunately, we don’t know any fire fighters that well. Late in the fall, we had several conversations about the ragged t-shirt and what we should do with it. Obviously, throwing it out just wasn’t an acceptable option for Julian. I told him it was going to be very difficult to replace it and while I tried to explain why, I don’t really think he understood the reasons.

I knew it was a long shot, but I wasn’t giving up. In September, I started checking eBay for NFD shirts and near the end of October, I had managed to bid on one and win it. It wasn’t cheap but I knew how much a new NFD shirt would mean to Julian. When it arrived in the mailbox, I was so thrilled that it was very difficult to keep it from him until Christmas. I knew he was going to be so excited to have a crisp new blue NFD shirt.

On Christmas Day, we took our time having breakfast and then sat around the tree to open our presents. I had wrapped Julian’s new shirt with great care in a really small box so he would have no idea what was inside. He opened the box enthusiastically, as any ten year old would do on Christmas morning. He pulled the folded blue mass from the box and at first; he didn’t realize exactly what it was. Then it kindof unfurled itself in his hands and a huge smile spread across his face. He gasped and then he clutched it to his chest and said with great clarity:

“Moma, you remembered me.”

It was one of those moments that made this unusually quiet and simple Christmas absolutely perfect for me. We hugged and went on with the festivities of the day, but that little phrase – “you remembered me” stuck with me. Sometimes it’s hard to be the parent of a ten year old son who doesn’t always comprehend and understand the world around him. Those moments of clarity—little glimpses into his understanding and little reassurances that there are some things he does really deeply “get” are the moments I treasure more than any other. This was one of those moments. It was clear in his voice. He understood the meaning of giving a Christmas gift and he understood the measure of love that it had been given with.

That was all the Christmas present I needed.


Don't Say It. 2 Rants in1 Day.

Rant #1
My least favorite "saying" or cliche in the English language:

"Boys will be boys."

It totally brings out the smart-mouth in me. I have many responses. Like "Would you rather they were something different?" and "Do you really have reason to think they won't be?" and "Is that an excuse?" My personal favorite is "You say that like there's something wrong with a boy being a boy?".
It appeared on a stamp set today in my email box. Ugh. Not buying that. And then I was scrapbook shopping later in the day and dang it, if there isn't paper with this very saying on it. I wanted to rip it up.

Cause I just really don't get it and I don't like how it makes us women sound like we feel we are superior and that being a boy is just some universal excuse for something stupid. We aren't. And it's not.

Of all the things we can say about men...why must it be that lameness?

Rant #2
For many years I have hated those stupid plastic bags that grocery stores use. Hate them. They are inefficient and wasteful. They are hard to corral in the car. Stuff falls over and rolls out. Constantly. Baggers use way too many and they are just a huge mess. The only thing they are good for is wrapping a dirty baby diaper. Really.

So with this in mind you can imagine my joy when Kroger got in *pretty blue re-usable bags*. They are very sturdy and they hold tons. I bought 6 the first time I saw them. For $6, I have, for the most part, rid my life of those stupid plastic bags! Whoo Hoo! And Kroger rewards blue bag users with a whopping 4 cents per bag every time you bring them back in for re-use. Yeah...4 cents.

So with great pride I've been carting my blue re-usable bags into Kroger faithfully for weeks. I love seeing my groceries packed so neatly in the bags. I love that they don't fall over and loose their contents in my car. I love that my entire weeks worth of groceries can be unloaded from the car in three quick trips. I love that I'm preventing waste by using them. I love that I save a whopping extra 24 cents each time. Well, OK, I don't care quite that much about the 24 cents...but it is a nice touch. (After 25 weeks, the bags will have paid for themselves. LOL!)

Now, I'm upping the ante and making this blue bag thing a competition with myself. It's become a goal to never buy more groceries than will fit in the bags. Thankfully they do hold alot--IF--they are packed right. There are 2 rules for packing the blue bags. 1-Balance and 2-Weight. Keep the items balanced. And what good does it do if it's packed so heavy that I can not lift it?

Do you think it's rude for me to ask the bag person to let me do my own bagging? Seriously. After tonight, I think I'm going to. I don't want to be rude but the point of the blue bags is that I don't want extra plastic bags. If you put your mind into it, it's pretty easy to pack them right. Hello. Just because the blue bag will hold six 2-liter bottles, doesn't mean I can lift it when you pack it that way. Duh. And yes, all the cold stuff can go in one bag. And all the fruits and veggies in another, on top of the cereal boxes. No, don't put the magazine in with the frozen stuff.

Somebody tell me I can nicely ask to do my own organized bagging. I don't mind if people look at me like a crunchy moma. I just don't want those darn plastic bags coming in my house when it's completely avoidable. Tonight, I ended up with three darn plastic bags and it was totally avoidable. I felt like charging them an extra quarter for taking the dumb things off their hands.

So now you know.


Wedding in the making...

I have been given a new task--one that I am finding so enjoyable. I am assisting my sister with the planning of her wedding and I've spent the last 2 nights on-line browsing cake and invitation sites. Oh my. Remember, I got married back in the dark ages, before the internet and before I really had a sense of style. It's a whole new world out there now, in the wedding web.

Here are two of my favorite sites so far: <--- the most elegant handmade, ribbon-adorned, richly-colored, special wedding invitations I've ever seen. I gasped. Litterally. <--- cakes that are dazzling in their simplicity.

As jp at Of Cats and Cardstock Blog so aptly put it: "I am a sucker for an attractive display." LOL! I like pretty things. Clean, simple, elegant, compelling and sentimental. Yep. I'm there.

Now if I could only get my house there. And my sons.

Wait. Sons. I should just give up that wish right now, shouldn't I.
Someone is beckoning from the closet.
I have to go.



Creative Stuff from the Grocery

For as long as I can remember, my mother has taken great delight in filling decorative tins with cookies. Whenever she bakes, her treats don't get wrapped in crunchy tin foil or stored haphazardly in a zip-lock baggie. Nope. They go in pretty (and now antique) decorative tins. It's a mom-thing. So it should come as no surprise that I equate decorative tins with peanut butter and oatmeal cookies. :)

Apparently tins are way more readily available now than they once were...because I am seeing them everywhere.

JoAnn's has an awesome selection of holiday tins...really pretty stuff there. Not as pretty as my mom's old ones...but pretty nevertheless. In all sorts of shapes and sizes. Tempting. And wouldn't you know it...I found some cool gift-card tins at the grocery. Kroger, of all places.
Made by Seastone. I had to indulge in a few of the snowflake ones. At $2, they just hoped into my buggy. :) I keep thinking of cool uses for them...beyond gift cards.

I'm not going to use the snowflake ones as gift card holders...but as tree ornaments. When they are hanging on the tree, I'll take a photo. (That would be after we get the tree next weekend.)

In other news, the holiday was wonderful. We went to my grandmother's for Thanksgiving and got to spend the day with my grandmother, my parents, my sister and her fiance' and a friend of hers, and my older younger brother. (LOL!)

It occurs to me that I have spoken (oops...written) many times here about my youngest younger brother, Army Andy, because he's (obviously) on my mind alot, given his chosen profession. Mainly, that he's in a dangerous place doing dangerous work.

But, I haven't told you so much about my oldest younger brother, Daniel. Until just recently, I would have sworn that Daniel was 7 years younger than me...but Deb set me strait when she was here...he's actually 9 years younger than me. Who knew? :) He's so cool. He can do anything with a saw and a hammer and some wood. He is a Texas boy (he has overcome the fact that he was born in Mississippi)and he reminds me alot of my Dad. He works hard and plays hard and he's very independent. He's a genuinely good-hearted man, and I am proud of that. :)

So now you know.

PS I've been oogling *kirstie*'s pea gallery for too long tonight...I am so drawn to her succinct style. Good stuff.


I want my X!

Edit to Add: These small alphabet stickers came from Michaels and are made by EK Success. I'm so flustered right now. There's no X in the set. Where is the X? Who made the brilliant choice to leave out the X?

It's crazy.



It's been a photo-rich few days...I have about 300 to edit for the pre-k photo catalog, in addition to my own stuff. I'm a Picture Mom in Grey's class...each Picture Mom uploads to the Snapfish account (subdivided by teachers) and then the teacher picks the ones she wants to print for each child's personalized "yearbook"--each child gets a "yearbook" at the end of the year containing 10-12 photos of him/her and class photos. There are 12 friends in each class.
I'm enjoying doing it, but there is a drawback. As a Picture Mom, I have access to the Snapfish account and can see everyone's contribution to our class file. As you can maybe guess, I am hard-pressed not to print all the great ones of my little boy and scrap them on my own. If I do this, he's going to need a whole album for just pre-k! No way am I going to set that precident! So, while it's very hard, I'm being very selective. I am considering printing them and just doing a straight photo album for him.
We had a special Indian guest at school yesterday and then of course, the not-so-traditional Thanksgiving feast. (The food was made up of only things that probably would have been served at the first Thanksgiving!)
And my submission to the Christmas Card Swap. (Scenic Route) The ribbon is chocolate brown. I'm stuck on chocolate satin ribbon lately.
Tonight is the Steven concert. Can't wait.
I'm drooling over this recipe...Caramel Apple Pear Granola Cream Pie from the Food Network Pie Challenge. I'm thinking about combining it with an Oatmeal Granola crust that my mom and sister "developed" and omitting the pears. I love being smack in the midst of apple season. Braeburns and fujis looked the best at the stand today...I've been existing on turkey, cheese and apples for 2 days now. That's just all that really appealed to me.
Happy Friday!


Yep, You're Old

A bit of blogging fluff for a brain that needs something to rest on for a bit:

You know you are aging when the actors who played super-cool twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings when you were in college begin to take on roles portraying parents of teenagers.

When I was in college, in 1993, Dean Cain landed the role of Superman in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. I loved that show and managed to watch most every episode. I'm even considering buying the DVDs. It was a good show. This was the same show that launched Terri Hatcher's career into the stratosphere. Afterall, who can really argue with Superman's girl, right. It ran from 1993 to 1997.

So last night I recorded CSI: Miami on the DVR and watched it late in the evening after the dudes went to bed. Can you guess who had a guest roll as the parent of a teenager? Yep. Superman, himself. Frightening.

And while I don't really put much stock in People Magazines' definition of "sexy man", I'm agreeing with Tracie. What on earth? Matt Damon? Are you kidding me? How blah can you get? Were the People people asleep at the wheel or what?

No, thank you.


Quick to Say

Just a quick note to say I had about 20 minutes of IM'ing with my brother, Andy today. He's in a rough place on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan but counting the days until his leave. Sometimes just knowing he's OK for today makes all the difference.

More later.


The rest of the story

This is the photo of the scrapbook store in Georgia. Forgot to add it to the other post.

In other news:

Have you seen Verve Visuals? Yummy stamps and an awesome gallery.

Little dude is obsessed with tape. Any kind of tape will do and it's seriously, it's becoming a problem. He's progressed to being a tape thief. Since the beginning of October, I've purchased 4 rolls of packing tape and he's made off with every single one. It's so bad, I've started hiding all tape in the laundry closet. Please don't anyone tell him. I'm going broke. :)

We went to the park for "Leaf Day" yesterday and I got lucky with this photo. He's about to turn 12. Can I really be the mother of a 12 year old?

Last week I cleaned out and re-organized the pantry and was surprised at the oddball things that had collected in there . I love having a nice neat pantry with everything visible and easily-accessible.

Apparently, (ahem..) it's been a while since I cleaned out tho...there was an expired can of blueberries in there along with a few things I was delusional canned artichokes and a seasoning mix for fajitas that looked like it may have survived the 80s. There was also a can of beets that I have no idea how it got in there (I would never buy beets), 2 stray V8 cans, a can of cherry pie filling (what can I do with that?) and of course, a can without a wrapper. Mystery. No idea what it is. Should I open it?

I finally got around to watching the CMA awards at 3am on Sunday morning while I couldn't sleep. Alison Krauss was positively phenomenal, of course. That woman is so amazing. Beautiful, elegant, and soulful. And a consummate musician. I'm in awe every time I see her perform.

I'm not a fan of that particular Sugarland song, but I liked Jennifer Nettles performance because she made you believe it (She sold it) and her giddiness in accepting the award was so sweet. I love it when winners aren't blaise' about an award. I've never watched American Idol so Kelly Pickler has kinda been under my radar...but she was awesome and real. Kelly Williams-Paisley's name from Brad's last tour was hilarious.

And lastly, Tracie asked earlier why we skipped Halloween, as I mentioned in a previous post. No, we aren't nuts. Honestly, our dudes can take it or leave it...some years we do it, some years we don't. We don't eat much candy and having excessive amounts of it in the house is not a good idea for me (I'm diabetic).

Last year, 90% of the trick or treaters at our house were older teenagers who were, in my opinion, way too old to be trick or treating. If you are old enough to wear a sexy French maid costume that shows too much of your bee-hind, you are too old for trick or treating. In my book, anyway. And then there's the safety issue.

Don't worry. The boys are not deprived. We dress up as fire men and tool men and a host of other characters at least once a week. We go out for dinner on Halloween and have a great time as a family.
So now you know.


Adventures in Peachtree City

Sweet thing had a one-day meeting on Saturday in Peach Tree City GA so big dude and little dude and I went along. The drive down was beautiful. The leaves in southeast Tennessee around the mountains decided finally that the time was right to don their fall finery and boy, what a magnificent show. Purple mountains majesty has become burnt umber, sienna, flaming orange, golden sun yellow, rust and deep red...and wow!

Unfortunately, there were some low points on this trip. I am extremely glad it was just an over-nighter. Anymore flubs and I would have been in bad shape.

The afternoon started with a Starbucks false alarm, which is enough to put any of us in a bad mood. Most of you know about my honey's infatuation/addiction to Starbucks. Well, a couple miles before exit 174 off I-24 near the outskirts of Chattanooga, we saw a billboard claiming there was a Starbucks at Exit 174. Sweet thing starts drooling and we decide to stop. :) We take the exit and drive around. No Starbucks in sight. Drive around some more. Find a police officer and ask. He laughs. "Nope, no Starbucks in this part of town." So we decide to stop at a gas station. I go in and collect drinks for everyone...and ask the young woman at the register if she knows if there's a Starbucks nearby. She says "You are the third person to ask me that today. They are building one over in front of the Wal-Mart, but it's not nearly open yet. I don't know why they put that sign up so early."

Indeed. Buncha teases. :)

We love Hampton Inns and stay in them whenever we travel. And that means "many" times a year--so many that Joal should really have a suite named after him...but the one in Peach Tree City was pretty much the worst Hampton Inn we've ever encountered.

I noticed as we walked down the corridor that there was a stale smell lingering. It wasn't exactly pleasant in the room. It wasn't gross but it wasn't up to their usual standards. For sure. The room was nice but the bathroom left me wanting a bottle of Fantastic in a bad way. Apparently, judging by the excessive number of "short n curlies" in the shower, someone in housekeeping was not inspired to do a good job that day. I was seriously considering not even using it until I could find a Wal-greens and buy some bathroom cleaner.

We had arrived late (around 7pm) and it was obvious that the hotel was booked solid, based on two buses in the parking lot. (Never a good sign.) We decided to go out for dinner and chose Chili's, because a) we don't have a Chili's at home and b) we used to eat there pretty often when we lived in Mississippi. It was about 8pm when we were finally seated, and looking back, it's clear we should have gotten something faster and gone back to the hotel. Little dude was too tired for going out, as was his father, who had attended a 6AM meeting and then driven 5.5 hours. My bad. Won't make that mistake again--Chili's or not.

Of course, when it starts to slide down hill, it can only gain momentum. :) We were lucky enough to get seated in an area being served by the worst-trained server on the planet. She only had one flaw really--she didn't listen. Not a good sign. The drink order was mangled, but fixed quickly. Then Big Dude got choked up on a spicy dip that went with the appetizer and was badly in need of some water. Joal ended up having to ask a passing waitress for water "quickly please". Got the water. Finally. The food arrived and Big dude's plate was not what we had ordered. The order was delivered by someone from the kitchen, not our server. When Joal pointed out that the plate wasn't right, this person said "I'll tell your server."

What happened to "Let me fix that for you"? I'm baffled.

So the server comes over and Joal tells her "This is supposed to be a chicken sandwich."

She says "No you pointed to the chicken pattie."

Is she really arguing now?

"No, it's definitely supposed to be a sandwich."

Reluctantly, she says "I'll be right back with that." I guess I just don't get it. No apology--just attitude. If being a waiter is your thing, why not do it good? We aren't super-demanding customers. We don't act badly or let out children run amuck and bother people. We don't change our minds 50 times. We aren't sloppy, loud or noisy. We don't get drunk. We are pretty easy...if you take the time to listen. The most outrageous requests we make are for extra napkins and that you keep the Diet Coke and the tea glasses filled. Apparently, that wasn't in her job description, tho. I have never been so glad to get out of a place.

Went back to the hotel. It was cleaned while we were out (thank goodness). Got the dudes settled and were comfortable until about 11:45. Joal and I were watching tv when he hears something in the bathroom and gets up to investigate. Sure enough, there's water draining thru the circulation vent in the ceiling, down onto our floor. Lots of water. He calls the desk and they come to investigate. So at a few minutes before midnight, we get moved down the hall to another room. This one had a clean, drip-free bathroom but there's a layer of dust on everything. At this point, I just need to go to bed and hope for a better tomorrow--dust or not. We hauled the sleeping dudes to the new place, and got all settled.

I don't think we would not have noticed if someone had pulled the fire alarm. :)Thankfully, no one did.

Saturday, we got up and got packed. The boys and I had made plans to meet up with the wife and children of one of Joal's co-workers. We found them just after breakfast and decided to hit the local scrapbook store I had looked up online. Scrapbooks, Invitations and More is housed in a cute cottage just a few miles from Peachtree City, in Fayetteville and boy, is it jam-packed with awesomeness. :) Even with a total of 5 children in tow, we managed to do some shopping. The store keeper was so very nice to us. The children did as well as could be expected. I finished up my shopping first, so I took 4 of the 5 outside to sit on the patio. The store keeper brought out a cup of sidewalk chalks and invited them to draw on the concrete. I thought that was incredibly thoughtful.

I really liked this store and could have stayed alot longer than we did. Great product...Quickutz, ribbons, Inque Boutique, Maya Road. Lots of neat art on the walls. If we ever end up having a meeting in that area again, I'll definitely go back to the scrapbook store there! But not to the Hampton. Sorry.

One neat thing about Peachtree City is that it's Georgia's first planned community and it's a golf cart community. All over the city there are these secondary roads that look like over sized sidewalks. They are made for the many (many) golf carts that people drive all over this community. They have special parking areas and crossings. It's the oddest thing I've ever seen. The dudes thought it was the coolest thing since Kool-aid!

We came home after the meeting ended on Saturday afternoon. I am so glad to be home.

This has gotten really long. I'm going to hold on to the rest of the news until tomorrow.

Happy Monday!


Cry to Jesus

Sometimes the phone rings and I just know it's not going to be good.

At 7:02 am this morning, G's pre-k teacher called to say that school was being cancelled today. Today in Franklin TN a beautiful woman I have long admired from a distance has to find the courage to tell her 2 young daughters that their father won't be coming home tonight because he's resting in the arms of Jesus. And then she has to go on breathing without her husband. While I don't know her very well, my heart aches so deeply for her right now. Would you mind saying a prayer for her today?

Thank you.


Etsy and football

Have you shopped or browsed at If artisan things speak to you, beware. This place will impact your wallet.

I have an Etsy store now for scrapbook elements and handmade card kits. You can visit it here.

So Sunday afternoon I was relaxing on the sofa with my honey, who had just gotten home from a 3-day trip to Salt Lake (do you know how jealous I am over that?). He was watching the Titans game (thank goodness for DVR). One of the calls was for "Unnecessary Roughness". Now, mind you, I have no idea what constitutes unnecessary roughness in football...and don't really care...but I happen to think that would make a perfect title for a scrapbook page about my sons. Who knew football could be inspiring? :)

I'm officially on creative overload here. A few days ago the new Steven Curtis Chapman CD arrived in my mailbox and today at the grocery I picked up the first copy of the newly-revived Victoria magazine (appropriately Christmas)! Good music and a good read. Oh my.

Joal and I are going to see Steven in concert a week from Friday at Belmont. I don't generally get excited about concerts...but this one will be of the charts. This man is constantly remarkable.

The boys and I took the recycling over to the collection center yesterday and I discovered there are 2 reasons why I don't like going there. (Joal usually does it.)

1. I have to resist the urge to laugh or at least smirk at people who drive gi-normous gas-guzzling vehicles like Excusions and Suburbans to the recycling center. Something just seems a little off about that. Maybe it's just me. Yesterday we say this petite little woman get out of a huge Excursion and discard a small bin of soda cans. Maybe ten cans. Just seemed kinda like a waste of time and effort.

2. I have to forcibly resist the urge to pick thru the recycled paper bins. Magazines...I have a magazine weakness and part of me wants to thumb thru and retreave some good reading material and catalogs from the recycled paper bins. I wouldn't climb in or anything...Heather...just look thru stuff that's easy to retrieve. Is that nuts? I think I need one of the mechanical arm things...LOL!

So from now on I'm leaving the recycling to the men in my family.

Joal's MySpace Music page is driving my up the wall. It won't let me upload the songs. I think I hate MySpace in general--maybe I'm just old.

So now you know.



I'm working on Joal's MySpace page and need to test out the link to the mp3 files. Let me know if it plays for you.

Memphis Time - a song inspired by Castaway - the movie.


Book Redemption

If I were to ever get a notion to start a new blog, I would call it "The Redeemer of Old Books". There's something so romantic and rewarding for me in rescueing old books from being discarded--I seem to have an especially strong weakness for cookbooks from the 60s. Today's garage sale adventure yielded one candidate for cookbook-ish redemtion--a beautiful copy of Better Homes and Garden Casserole Cook Book from the grand year of 1964!

It a big hardback and only has some minor damage--one page that has obviously had one piece of a photo chopped rather haphazardly from it. I can just imagine the child working on a school project, desperately seeking a photo of a head of cabbage...feeling elated to find the needed photo. He (presumption) cuts it carefully from the cookbook and glues it to his project, having no idea the damage he's done to mom's favorite cookbook. :)

It even has a few notations in the margins. I love those. Near the recipe for Beef Goulash and Noodles are written the words "Omit garlic. Add more salt." By the recipe for Spinach-Stuffed Zucchini are the words "Add more bacon and try with Parmesan cheese". Sounds good to me. :)

And did I mention the smell of old books? Ah yes. I adore that smell.

In other news, I'm teaching a new Scenic Route class next Sunday afternoon at Scrap'n Memories. I'm changing the model for my classes. From now on, I'm keeping it short, sweet, easy and affordable. Each installment is going to take only one hour and the very easy-to-accomplish layout that can be purchased as a class or a kit. The price is going to be very affordable--only $12. Kits come with very detailed instructions--each class project can be assembled with the step-by-step instructions and photos.

We skipped Halloween this year so I have no photos for this page. On my own copy of this layout, I'm changing the title to "It's all about the Salsa!". Instead of trick-or-treating we went out as a family for Mexican and Joal and I firmly believe that a Mexican restaurant can rise or fall by it's Salsa. Never underestimate the power of good Salsa!

Ole! The Salem line from Scenic Route would work great for a great many themes...I love that about Scenic Route.

We watched Fantastic 4: The Rise of the Silver Surfer today and I just have to say "what a great movie". I don't make it a practice to recommend movies (been burned by that too many times) but I really liked this one...probably enough to own it. I take what my sons watch on television very seriously and not much gets into this house. I'm a firm believer in the motto "Garbage in. Garbage Out." I found N-o-t-h-i-n-g in this movie to object to...really, nothing. DO you know how unusual that it? No words. No sexual innuendo. It's Good vs. Evil and good wins. Pro-marriage. Pro-team work. Sacrificial giving of ones self. Never say die. Look beyond a person's outter appearance. All things I like for my boys to see. If I looked hard enough I think there could be some shadowing of the redemption of humanity thru Christ. But that's another topic altogether. :)

I hope you are having a superb weekend!


I Will Not Make the Leap.

I will not get into digital scrapbooking.
I will not get into digital scrapbooking.
I will not...

So I have had this little label image kit in my cart at 2Peas for-ever. Something about it just rings my bell. It's $4. I couldn't buy a package of labels for $4, right. And look how many sizes...

So, today I caved and bought said kit. Thank you Jennifer Pebbles. Doesn't she just have the perfect name for being a Pea?

And have been cutting out swooshy labels all evening. Just look at all the gallery layouts showing the possibilites! I'm positively stoked. Even though I showed Joal and I think he somehow didn't quite catch on to my excitement. I learned something new today.

I also found a few things that interest me today:

A scrap blog - My Next Thirty Years

Another paper lover blog - Cut 'n Paste (Caarolyn Peeler, the amazing)

A commentary from Phyllis Schlafly on the Crisis for Boys in Education - Eagle Forum Commentary on the Radio (scroll down the menu)

And finally, Messenger of Joy.

But then I also said I would never wear a sleeveless dress and I'm considering this one for the cruise. I like the color. Alot. I'm waffleing on the shortness that would require heels. I'm 5'6". I don't usually do heels.

So now you know.


Simple Girl

It's true. I'm a simple girl and simple things make me happy. No high-maintanance issues here.

I've been looking for this particular set of Club Scrap stamps for years and was thrilled to find them listed on SBA a few days ago for $2.50. (Can you say bargain?) They arrived in my mailbox today and it totally made my day.

Last night I made a new grocery shopping/recipe journal using my last sheet of what is most likely my all-time favorite paper from Scenic Route. Yes, I've been hoarding it for something special because it's my last sheet. It's truly vintage. :) It's no longer available from Scenic Route. I tried to make it dressy but after several unsatisfactory attemps, I gave up and left it as is. It's nice to have a fresh place to keep recipe ideas and grocery lists.

In other news, my blog friend Mimi completed this little meme (Mimi, meme...funny huh) and I thought it was too good to pass up. Hey, it's food-related. I can do a food-meme with my eyes closed. :)

Take the letters of your name and add a food-related factoid for each one.

S-Salt. I love salt and salty things. From childhood, I have over-salted, most everything. One of my limited memories of my maternal grandmother is that she was always saying salt would "dry up your blood". Turns out she's right, but I still love it. Especially kosher salt.

A-Averse to anything black. I don't do black olives, squid ink, or anything "blackened". I've always thought blackened was a fancy way of saying "burned", and I'm not buying it. Something about black just isn't appetizing to me.

R-Recipes. I enjoy reading recipes. I rarely cook anything new...but I love recipes.

A-Apples. I think apples are one of the most wonderful fruits on the planet. See, another simple thing.

H-Hot Ham and Cheese, Grilled. This is my "go to" food for anytime someone in my house is sick or we are crunched for time. It's like a magic food. Always tastes good (unless of course, you end up with it "blackened") and always soothes. Have you ever made a Double-Decker Grilled Ham and Cheese on Sourdough bread? Now that, my friends, is divine.

And finally, I have the Monday Challenge up over at the Scrap'n Memories blog. Check it out.

So now you know.



I love hearing the how and why of other home school families and after being asked again today about why we are home schooling one son and likely not the other, I was prompted to post this. (Written October 2006)

Our story has 2 parts.

Part one -- my husband was home schooled from grade 6 to grade 12. If ever there was a poster child for successful home schooling, I'm married to him. His father was/is a pastor and they moved quite a bit due to his vocation. This played a large part in the decision to home school their children. He has a younger brother and a younger sister...who were both home schooled from grades 1-12. Joal received a college scholarship as a result of his high ACT scores and musical talent. We met the first day of college and have been together ever since. He was valedictorian of our class in college and graduated with honors from 2 different colleges with 2 BS degrees--Biblical Literature and Vocal Performance.

People are often shocked to learn that Joal was home schooled. He's a born musician and songwriter. He is the kind of person who happens to life instead of the other way around. In high school, Joal did things like start a band and make 2 inde albums, work several jobs, play soccer and travel to Alaska (from New York) on a missions trip. Knowing him as I do, I have no doubt that a traditional school setting would have stifled him horribly.

Vocationally, he is a sales manager and trainer for a legislative research company and has been with the same company for 8 years now. He talks about life and liberty with good Americans everyday. He blows the alleged home school/socialization problem out of the galaxy. In truth, he's far more socially adept than I am.

When we were engaged, one of his parents main concerns was if I was open to home schooling our future children.

I was/am the product of several public school systems. I was an OK student...good grades, no real problems, no stand-out areas either. School wasn't necessarily something I hated but we did move several times and that was somewhat traumatic. My siblings are all significantly younger than I am and the year I graduated from public high school, my brother started third grade. My father was/is a pastor and there was what my parents considered to be a moral problem with my brother's third grade class that prompted my parents to begin home schooling. Less than 3 months later they moved to Texas and have home schooled ever since. I have 2 brothers and a sister...oldest brother is in college in an engineering program, next brother is in the Army about to ship out to Italy and my little sister graduated from home school last May. She will start college in January 07.

So, yeah, my parents homeschooled everyone but me.

With that in mind, I was open to homeschooling when my husband-to-be asked me how I felt about it, although I wasn't completely sure about it. We were married in 1991 and Julian was born in 1996.

This is part two of our story...a special-needs child.

I was all set to home school until we started to realize that Julian at 1.5 years was experiencing some significant developmental delays (walking, talking, fine motor skills). At 2 he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a complication of premature birth. At 3, his pediatrician recommended that we have some testing done by the school system and that resulted in several doctors and therapists advising us to have him enrolled in an early pre-k program. School at 3! Hindsight being what it is, I can't help but wonder what I was thinking.

I was led to believe and accepted that my child had needs that could only be met by a professional in a school environment. The one time I dared to ask if any of these services could be received in our home instead of in the school setting (he was only 3 after all) the therapist told me that he needed more than I could give him. (What I would say to that now!)

Honestly, I regret that I didn't fight harder for my child. I wish we hadn't spent 5 years wading thru a very broken school system. Julian was in the special ed program his entire time in school. He was passed along and moved around (to 3 different metro schools) thru 2 years of pre-k, k, 2 years of first grade and then 2 months into second grade, his teacher told me she didn't have time to plan for him so she had moved him to a table in the corner and given him coloring sheets instead of work in hopes of keeping him from distracting the other children. I remember thinking if that's all she's doing, I could certainly achieve that at home.

At this time his behavior was deteriorating due to sheer boredom and he was showing up in the principal's office for an inability to control his impulses. In truth, Julian enjoyed the principal's office. It had a comfortable sofa and a fire extinguisher and a window with a view. It also offered him interaction with adults, something he has always preferred. By this point I had encountered a therapist at the school who was determined that Julian should be placed in a special school in Madison (we live in Bellevue) where 100% of the students have "challenges". Knowing how much Julian responds to external input, I had no intention of even considering placing him where there was no positive, normal peer influence. Not to mention the extreme distance of 30-40 miles from our home.

Given my background and Joal's, we knew that we were going to have to take the bull by the horns and be the parents God meant for us to be. We started looking at options and more and more the only thing that made sense was for us to bring him home to school. Over the course of about three weeks, I began to get educated about modern home schooling and tackling the learning problems he was facing that were not being addressed. Our new mission became clear. The best thing for Julian was to get out of a system that was failing him and giving up on him and into the care of his parents and family.

I do not have a teaching degree. I do not have special training to deal with learning disabilities and attention deficit. However, no one is more motivated than I am to find what he needs to learn and become a Godly man, a good and productive citizen and a well-educated person, despite the learning disabilities he faces. We have one motto: We do not give up. We find a way. Sometimes we do it personally. Sometimes we find the right professional for advice or interaction. Parent-led education does not mean that the parent does it means that the parent is responsible for getting it done thru whatever means necessary.

I am blessed to not be in this fight alone and yes, I do call it a fight. It's not easy. In fact, it's the hardest thing I have ever done. Everything we have been thru has taught me that "train up a child" does not look the same for all children. Thanks be to God that I have a pediatrician that I trust and who shares our faith. I have a child psychiatrist who listens to me and trusts my judgment as much as her own. I have Christian parents and in-laws who are invaluable based on their many years of experience and their vested interests. I have a husband who is my champion. He never fails to believe that we can find a way to see Julian succeed...even if that way looks different from every other schooling model around. I am blessed with a younger son who appears to have none of his brother's challenges and who has a smile that brightens my every moment.

So, looking back, I think we were brought to this place of home schooling kicking and screaming and feeling monumentally unqualified and unable...but God is faithful and He provides wisdom when we need it most. We were definitely running away from a poor, unsuccessful traditional school setting that no longer had Julian's interests at heart. I went thru a period of anger toward the system but have since just moved on. From the inside out, based on 5 years of experience, for children with special challenges or gifts, I do believe that much of our American education system is failing. I do not claim to have answers and I admit that it may seem selfish to say I am saving my child as best I can but at this point that is my goal. I pray for our schools and our school administrators and board members regularly. I realize that schools are necessary and can be a good experience for some children so I hope for the best for them and pray for their improvement (and vote accordingly).

UPDATE: We have just entered our fourth year of home schooling Julian and while what we do looks nothing like a traditional school, it is meeting his needs--educational and emotional. It's still very difficult and something that requires constant daily re-evaluation. It's a very sensitive topic with me--hence the blog entries.

I think the ordinary citizen has very little idea how broken the Special Education system is. Is this a national problem of just a local one? I don't know. I've only participated in 3 schools, all in the Metro-Nashville system. Inclusion is not all it's cracked up to be. In many cases, inclusion (which at times feels like nothing more than an over-reaction to years of exclusion) seems to be the excuse for not providing what a child actually needs.

Students in an inclusion program can be blamed for slowing down a class or for being a distraction to the class. One of Julian's teachers looked at me with such disdain when I asked if she had completed some of his IEP worksheets. She indignantly reminded me that she has 30 other students to plan for and take care of. "He gets his attention from the Special Ed teacher" she said. "I have 30 other students who need me." This from the teacher who he spent half his day with. Don't think the other students didn't pick up on her attitude. Believe me, they did.

And there are funding issues. Many funding issues. At one point in the IEP process, I was told that the entire team agreed that Julian needed an aide (a one-on-one para-professional person) but that there wasn't enough money to provide one. No alternatives were given. It was a simple consessionary fact: the school could not do what needed to be done.

Is this common? I don't know. Should I fight it and *demand* more? Do I want to be that parent? I considered all the options. Even if I threw a fit, went to the school board, demanded what was legally his by law, and got it...what does that gain him? Suddenly, he's the child of "that mother". Will that really serve him in a way that is helpful and educational? I just don't think so.

At the end of his time in school, it was recommended by the principal that I come to the school and eat lunch with Julian every day, because he had such a difficult time managing the cafeteria. I did so for more than a month. Every day, with a small baby in tow, I ate lunch with my son and managed his behavior. It was an eye-opening experience. With G in tow, it was also a pain, but we survived.

I don't write all this to tell you what a good Mom I am or what a saintly thing I have done. Please. Don't read it like that. Home schooling is a small part of our journey--a path that we walk mostly because we have no other choices. It's not something that is a good fit for every family. It's just one option--one that works for us.

More on that tomorrow.


Scenic ROUTE Cardage

Scenic Route Class today...this is one of the cards we made.

It's a very simple process...just use the 7 Gypsies self-inking stamp to create the squares on a variety of papers. Cut the squares out and attach to the card in a random fashion.

Finished card is 6x6.

Happy Weekend.


Class Tomorrow

My Scenic Route Class at Scrap'n Memories is tomorrow--Saturday, October 27. Here's a peek:
In class we will complete three cards, a composition book and a mini-calendar all using the Scenic Route Ashville line.
If you have a little time in the afternoon, I think there are 2 seats left.